Delving into the spiritual realm, Dominic Hawgood creates a series of impossible images that draw a parallel between the photographic fictions enabled by digital technology and the otherworldly hallucinations induced by the drug DMT
Dominic Hawgood's images defy easy categorisation. Photography remains a limited term of definition for his unique processes of image manipulation, and the production of computer-generated images dominates his activity as an artist. Reconsidering reality as something that is just as performative, subjective and deceptive as its depiction across various media, he creates strange, hyperreal visions of people, places and objects.
Recently, he has explored the shifting nature of sensation and perception in a new series, Casting Out The Self, that sees him draw a curious association between new digital tools and the hallucinogenic qualities of the drug Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). First shown physically at Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian in Paris earlier this year, we now present a new digital version of the series in POSTmatter. A Buddha is rendered as a Tri Poly Mesh 3D animation, produced from 3D scans to reveal intimate material details of the object, while black and white still lifes have been produced using a specular light separation technique.
The series brings together zoomable images, video pieces with new soundscapes by David Corney, render collaboration with Jules Malcomson, and original text by art historian and critic Lucy Soutter. Dive in and take a trip into a digital dream world.
The Buddha sits on the altars of urban shaman and computer geeks.
The Buddha is one of the most popular objects used in 3D scanning tests.
The Buddha is eternal.
The Buddha is now.
In a room somewhere in London a group of latter-day shaman pass the pipe. Like countless others before them, they journey to another dimension without moving a muscle. The external world, the internal world are reconfigured through hybridized Peruvian rituals and through their consumption of dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Their collection of props is both ancient and modern: a rattle, some beads, a bottle, a Buddha. Nothing about the scene could be more primal, nothing more contemporary. The travellers leave their bodies and experience radical shifts in the fabric of space and time. Colours deepen, angles multiply, surface patterns come alive. They travel separately but to the same place of connection and insight.
I can’t tell you all of it. For starters you probably wouldn’t understand. Not unless 3D imaging (or DMT) is part of your everyday life. Do you really need to understand? I think it’s better, certainly, if you know something about how Dominic Hawgood made the animations, about the obsessively labour-intensive experiments he and technical collaborator Jules Malcomson made along the way. You see, it isn’t just about coming up with the right set-up for rendering a real-world object in convincing CGI. It’s a particular approach to image-making, discovering new ways of producing and processing a tri poly mesh surface, generating new virtual materials and effects to push past verisimilitude and into something else. David Corney’s responsive soundscapes contribute another level of digital granularity and underline the meditative quality of the work.
What would you see if you just stumbled on these Buddhas unawares?
Would your innocent eye just find them a bit odd?
Or might their strange visual properties, microscopic and monumental at the same time, take you someplace else, into a digital dream world?
The stills are images the unassisted eye could never see, of parallel dimensions we can reach only through digital mediation. The black and white pictures have been made by separating layers of light, isolating the specular reflections of shiny surfaces and removing the diffused reflections of rougher areas.
This selected emphasis on one kind of highlight turns the world to metal. The cold, hard images pull us into an altered perception in which darkness may have more to tell us than light. In contrast, the colour pictures offer a delirious overload of detail on the surface of a thing.
An original object has been photographed from a multiplicity of angles and planes of focus, rendered 3D, its surface heightened to an impossible degree. In both sets of images the light makes a certain sense, but not in our world’s terms. Organic and hyperreal meet in the place where the eye and the mind are prepared to let go of expectations.
We can see as much as we let ourselves see.